We’ll change gears from blogging tips on how to increase your blog traffic to tips regarding comments on your blog. Comments let us bloggers know that people are reading our stuff and they care enough to reply. Comments are probably the most sustaining feature of a good blog. Getting a lot of comments on an article is the difference between something that’s forgotten in a day to something that lives on weeks after it was posted. You want people to comment on your articles, to discuss it, so you need a way for them to do that.
Let’s start with the comment system itself. WordPress has a built in comment system, which isn’t terrible but it’s not great either. Blogger also has a comment system, again not amazing but better than the stock WordPress one. I recommend using neither of these. You’re all probably familiar with Disqus and IntenseDebate. Both are 3rd party comment systems that anyone can make use of on their blog. I’m not going to discuss which is the better system, it’s entirely subjective. For what I’m discussing they both do equally well so it’s moot anyway.
What makes these systems superior to any built in comment system is generally ease of use. When you use a built in system then people generally have to register at your site to post a comment. The thing is that we humans are lazy beings and unless I really feel compelled to comment on your article then I’m not going to register. However, if you’re using Disqus or IntenseDebate then I’m already logged in, all I have to do is type a comment, it’s easy. These systems also offer multiple ways of logging in, replying to comments and even moderating them. Again, offering many easy ways of doing something.
Additionally, these 3rd party systems are great at building a community. I can go to my Disqus account and see all the comments I’ve posted and the comments in reply to me or my blog. It makes it easy for me to remember that blog I left a comment on that I had never previously visited and had since forgotten about. These systems offer the ability for people to “like” your article, or even a commenter, and share the article or their comment to social networks like Facebook or Twitter. The more people share your articles the more traffic you’ll get.
The other things these 3rd party comment systems do is allow for nested comments. Nested comments are where people can reply specifically to another commenter. A lot of built in systems lack this, or they have a limited nesting ability. If people can reply to a specific comment then it helps promote discussion. I don’t want to comment on an article in reply to people have have to type @Commenter1, @Commenter2. Also with this I don’t have to subscribe the the entire article comments to get a notice, I get one when I’m specifically replied to. That’s damn handy.
For WordPress users, just go to Plugins and search for Disqus and IntenseDebate, it’s a one click install. I’m not sure how easy it is to implement these on Blogger but I recommend either of these to any blog out there.
Lastly, a big pet peeve of mine is authors who don’t reply to comments. Nothing says I don’t give a shit what you have to say more than not bothering to acknowledge the people who take the time to read your article and leave a response. As an author your trying or promote yourself and your articles, you want discussion. If I’m responding to your article and you’re nowhere to be seen in the comments then I’m not going to bother going back to your blog, it’s that simple. I’m sure it doesn’t bother someone much if I personally don’t return, however most readers share that sentiment and you’ll find yourself with no readers.